The following checklists can help you and your partner identify possible problems that can undermine the best relationship. They will also help you get to know each other better by talking about them. Ask yourself and each other the following questions.
14 Problem Behaviors That Can Undermine the Best Relationship
1. Addiction or excessive use of alcohol, drugs, etc.
Whether the problem is alcohol, drugs, gambling, or anything else, it leads to behavior that makes a person unreliable and untrustworthy. It will inevitably prevent the addict from putting the partner’s needs first. Feeding the addiction will always come first, not the partner.
- Does anyone in my partner’s family have a history of addiction?
- Does my partner’s drinking/drug use/gambling make me uncomfortable?
- Does he or she acknowledge that there is an addiction problem?
- Is he or she now in treatment or seeking professional help to overcome this addiction?
2. Controlling or Bullying Tendencies
If you feel as if your partner tries to micromanage every detail of your relationship and your life, neither of you will feel as if you have a relationship of two independent, mature adults. This can undermine the best relationship in itself. If he insists on having his own way more than you think is fair or she does not respect your independence, then it won’t be long before the two of you will experience conflict.
- Does he or she expect me to account for my whereabouts every single minute of the day? If I don’t, does he or she express annoyance or worse?
- Does he or she constantly tell me what to do?
- Is he or she overly jealous and mistrustful when I spend any time away from him or her, or when I have any dealings with the opposite sex?
- Does he or she try to bully me into doing things I do not want to do?
- Does your partner fail to consult you on important decisions?
3. Dishonesty and Lying
Good relationships are built on trust. Each partner has to be able to rely on the other telling him or her the truth.
- Does my partner ever lie to me?
- Does my partner try to excuse his or her lying, rather than apologize for it?
4. Displays of Contempt, Condescension, and Overall Lack of Respect
When it comes to bahvious that can undermine the best relationship—if your partner treats you with contempt rather than respect and speaks sarcastically and condescendingly, it will be almost impossible to talk over your differences calmly and rationally.
- Does my partner make fun of me in a way that hurts my feelings?
- Does my partner make snide remarks about me and act as if he or she does not respect my skills, talents, or contributions?
- Do I feel that my partner does not treat me with respect?
5. Emotional Withdrawal
If your partner has great trouble sharing his or her emotions or demonstrating love through affection and touch, in a way that meets your own emotional needs, it will be difficult to have a mutually satisfying relationship.
- Does my partner simply walk away or retreat when there is conflict rather than sit down to talk it through?
- Does my partner have difficulty expressing his or her feelings and emotions?
- Does my partner give the warmth, physical affection, and emotional nurturance I need, or does he or she seem to withhold emotional support?
6. Excessive or Explosive Anger
When your partner’s anger seems excessive, inappropriate to the circumstances, or occurs more often than you are comfortable with, he or she may have a problem.
- Does my partner shout excessively when there is even a slight disagreement?
- Does my partner’s anger seem out of control or frightening to me?
- Have friends or family mentioned these outbursts to me?
- Is such behavior common in my partner’s family?
7. Extreme Defensiveness or Denial That Obstructs Open Discussion
If you try to bring up problems that you see in your interactions, and your partner seems unable to listen and instead gets angry, defensive, or completely denies your feelings, it will be difficult for you both to grow in this relationship. It also makes it difficult or impossible to fix problems as they arise.
- Does my partner jump on me or refuse to calmly discuss any differences of opinion that I bring up?
- Can my partner listen to problems I bring up, or does he or she usually deny that any such problems exist?
8. Frequent Critical or Insulting Remarks
When it comes to bahvious that can undermine the best relationship—excessive criticism can be a huge proble. It is one of the most destructive behaviors in any relationship, and one most likely to lead to divorce.
If your partner repeatedly criticizes and insults you, he or she is not showing you the respect any marriage partner deserves.
- Does my partner show lack of respect in the way he or she talks to me?
- Does he or she repeatedly criticize who I am or what I do?
- Does he or she criticize me or insult me in front of others?
Unfaithfulness is one of the most fundamental betrayals of trust, and one that will jeopardize a marriage. If your partner is unfaithful before you get married, and you cannot agree that both of you find such actions unacceptable, chances are it will happen again.
- Does my partner flirt or behave in any other way with others that makes me unhappy or uncomfortable?
- Has my partner ever been unfaithful to me?
- Has my partner ever given me reason to believe he or she might be unfaithful?
10. Intolerance or Excessive Rigidity
Someone who is intolerant of you or others, or who is excessively rigid, will not be likely to have the forgiving nature or the flexibility and resilience to roll with the ups and downs that any long-term relationship requires.
- Is he or she accepting of attitudes I possess that differ from his or her own?
- Is he or she tolerant of me or my friends and relatives when they express views or behave in ways that may differ from his or her own?
- Does he or she get impatient or angry when people do not seem to agree with him or her?
- Does my partner refuse to speak to me or others if he or she is angry?
11. Laziness and Unwillingness To Do His or Her Share
Once two partners agree on what they find to be a fair distribution of chores around the house, based on time and preferences and skills, it is not acceptable for one of the partners to repeatedly slack off without discussing it thoroughly with the other.
- Does my partner constantly avoid doing what he or she agreed to do or should do?
- Does my partner think household chores are always someone else’s job, not his or hers?
- Does my partner refuse to pitch in and leave the lion’s share of the work to me, even though we agreed to split things equitably?
12. Rudeness or Bad Manners
When it comes to bahvious that can undermine the best relationship—if your partner is repeatedly rude to you or others, or if his or her bad manners make you feel as if you would not want to be seen in public with him or her, your relationship cannot possibly become great without some major alterations in behavior.
- Am I embarrassed by my partner’s manners?
- When I ask my partner to modify his or her behavior, is he or she able to change, or does the behavior persist?
- Does my partner seem rude in a way that I feel shows lack of respect for me and others?
13. Selfishness or Inability To Show Kindness, Caring, and Support
Be careful if your partner puts his or her interests above yours on a fairly regular basis. Such behavior is likely to encourage you to behave in a similar fashion, if only to protect your interests. When two people behave selfishly, they will likely grow farther apart over time.
- Do I feel as if my partner is pulling his or her share in the relationship?
- Am I happy about how chores and responsibilities are divided?
- Does my partner think about what I want and need as much as his or her own interests?
- Is my partner willing to help others when they need it?
14. Violence or Verbal Abuse
Physical violence and verbal abuse are never acceptable in any relationship. With counseling, some individuals may be able to over-come this behavior. But if the person is unwilling to seek outside counseling, you shouldn’t expect to see significant change.
- Does my partner use abusive language, profanity, or cruel and insulting remarks directed at me that I find offensive and hurtful?
- Has my partner ever hit me or threatened to hurt me even once?
Though psychological and emotional problems may not be fatal flaws, they are conditions you must be aware of before you marry. If your partner is suffering from conditions such as depression, anxiety, obsessive fears, or other worrisome emotional issues, he or she should receive professional help before you make any decision about marrying. Of course, he or she should continue with that help, if necessary, after the marriage, should you decide to go ahead with it.
It can be very difficult to look honestly at the person we think we love. We may feel we’ll spoil the romance, or discover things we wish we didn’t know. But the reverse is more likely to be true. Having honest discussions many of them about religion, money, sex, children, recreation, and acceptable behavior can be a great way to discover how much you really have in common. It will also build trust and a strong foundation for your future life together. If you don’t agree at first, this discussion offers a chance to learn what you need to continue working on. If you still aren’t able to agree on all of these six basic issues, you will find it much wiser and less painful in the long run to part ways so that you can begin, with optimism, your new search for the right person for you.
This article was adapted with permission from WONDERFUL MARRIAGE Copyright © 2008 By Lilo J. Leeds and Gerard G. Leeds. BenBella Books, Inc. 6440 N. Central Expressway, Suite 503 Dallas TX 75206. For more information about this book or information about the its authors Lilo and Gerard Leeds, Terrence Real and Susan Seliger.